My Funny Valentine

Sean DiLeonardo

 

Punch a horse in the rectum and you’ll know how I felt. It was nothing short of a deathblow waiting to kick me in the face.Vixen77 likes his cigars freshly cut with the ends already moistened by my lips, and here I am, farting on his rubber ducky with the water overflowing onto the marble floor. He expects rolled-up prosciutto tooth-picked to an olive waiting for him in the morning, and I’ve got his white silk bathrobe wedged between my tired skull and the linoleum tiled wall. His idea of positive reinforcement is singing to me in the nude, while I lay across his baby grand, and here I am, staring directly into his frozen blue eyes and the tiny frostbitten wrinkles that icily reach from his eyelids to where the skin is tighter around the temples. Sinatra. He only plays Sinatra, with those same cold eyes staring at me as I recline; his butt always making a coarse sound as it rubs against the red velvet of the piano bench when he shifts his weight to push the foot pedal. My hip always pulsating with a soreness caused by the hard black wood.

 

My funny valentine, sweet comic valentine . . .

 

“Is this what you call attending to the bathroom?”

 

I wanted to express my disbelief that he was even capable of digestion, urinating, or bowel movements; that his need of a bathroom was lacking, and that my need to clean it, even more so. Everything from his stagnant movements to his sterile voice suggested a complex sort of asexuality and impotence. The complete lacking of a digestive or reproductive system. I glanced at his crotch for reaffirmation. No, it went beyond that. There was something robotic within his empty mechanisms. Nothing fluid.

 

“Get outta my tub before I light you on fire.” It seemed more than a threat as he took out his lighter to light a cigarette, but his words were eased by the fact that I knew Vixen77 hated the smell of burning flesh. I had, in fact, become familiar with many of his peculiarities. You might say, I knew just how to push his buttons.

 

Drinking red wine out of a belly button, slowly grating cheese, wearing a peacock feather through his hair, the feel of silk and fur, the smell of nail polish—these were the things that kept him going throughout the day. These were his . . . turn-ons.

 

The sound of lips smacking, throats swallowing, stomachs churning, the idea of strangers touching, smelling, poking, and discussing his things, possessions, and personal affects, the feel of an unknown man’s skin and hair and teeth, and the look of his feet, these were the things that made him scowl. These were the sights and sounds that caused him to hug himself tightly and pucker his mouth and squint his eyes. Wiggle his hands in disgust as if to shoo away the sound or the smell or the skin. Shoo, shoo! Take it away!

 

You make me smile with my heart . . .

 

“Do I look like Santy Claus to you? You think I gave you this place as a present when I left to do what you want with it?”

 

I wanted to tell him that he did not look like Santy Claus—that he looked like an irate old man looking at another man in his bathtub, which, in all sincerity, is a lot better than a furious old man looking at someone slicing a cantaloupe with a butcher’s knife with nothing on but his Italian moccasins, which is what he would have been if he had come home twenty minutes ago. I bit my lower lip instead.

 

Your looks are laughable. Unphotographable . . .

 

“Get up.” He quipped again.

 

I did not feel shame when I stood up and the bubbles quickly melted from my body back down into the water. Shame and modesty had been foreign for several weeks now. I didn’t even begin to blush as I stood with my hands on my sides, facing him squarely. I wanted to shake my head like a dog, just to splash him and see him cringe. I wanted to revel in the brief moment of silence as a single drop of my filthy bathwater traveled down the crooked bridge of his nose, before he wiped it off with an exaggerated flip of the wrist. Instead I stood, wrinkled by the water and wearied by the steam, eyeing my pathetic reflection in the mirror. I noticed a hunch in my posture. A redness to my eyes. The sense of fatigue. A scar on my chest.

It was him who blinked first, if you know what I mean. He turned around and left me to dry off.

 

Yet you’re my favorite work of art . . .

 

“Get on your knees,” he turned towards me, now outside the bathroom. He finished making a martini, lifted it to his nose, inhaled deeply, and then set it back down without drinking.

 

I quit picking the cantaloupe seed out of my teeth and did what he said. The towel fell off as I did so.

He laughed callously. Slow. Dry. Mechanic. I felt his eyes.

 

I was looking at the water drip off my hair and gather right below my nose while I tried to finish off the seed with my tongue, when he bent down, real low, and whispered, “So you wanna play house?”

 

Is your figure less than Greek? Is your mouth a little weak . . .

 

I wanted to tell him to eat his martini glass and never stop swallowing.

 

Stay little valentine, stay . . .

 

“Fine, let’s play.”

 

This was when he stuck his cigarette into my back.

 

Each day is Valentine’s Day.

* * *

It was not the decision in and of itself that was unsettling. It was the SUBMIT button at the end of it all that gave me a strange feeling. The decision was made with an air of duty, as an expectation arose on my part.

When I decided to sell myself I didn’t know how easy it would be. I was unsure that I would be able to find a forum, a place to post the advertisement. I was afraid of the legal consequences, the chance of being exposed, caught, arrested and put on display in a court that would question my misgivings as a proper citizen and the reasons I was driven to such perversity. I thought I would search hopelessly, come to terms with my lonely longing, only to be caught and subsequently drawn and quartered.

Instead I found AnatomicWholesale.com.

 

I perused the site with playful curiosity. It seemed perfect. The black market must cherish the technological revolution. Here I saw things for sale that I had never imagined there was a demand for. Corpses, stuffed corpses, parts of corpses, pictures of parts of corpses, pictures of stuffed corpses dressed like sailors and cowboys and nurses.

 

I clicked on the Frozen Fetus section to find aborted human fetuses intended for human consumption for sale. There was a link to a site that offered popular recipes and preparations for fetus meals. It explained with unabashed frankness that a single human fetus contained more nutrients than a full course meal.

I backspaced and clicked on a section dedicated to partial-birth abortion baby body parts. I experienced that strange sensation where one wants to quickly cover his eyes and simultaneously continue to look. I scrolled down. There was a price list, or menu perhaps, that read:

  • Livers (8 weeks): $150
  • Spleens (8 weeks): $75
  • Pancreas (8 weeks): $100
  • Kidney (8 weeks): $125
  • Brain: $999
  • Ears: $50
  • Eyes: $75
  • Skin (12 weeks): $100
  • Lungs and heart (8 weeks): $150
  • Spinal cord: $325
  • Intact cadaver (8 weeks): $400

 

30% discount if significantly fragmented (meaning severely mutilated during the abortion procedure)

I backspaced a final time before seeing the tab, Live Sales. I clicked. Here I found my answer.

 

I filled out the necessary information to start an account and then began the process of putting an item, that is, myself, up for sale. The first thing I noticed is that one was given the opportunity to display a picture of the product. It was here that my first problem arose. After some awkward arm-stretching photography tactics, I conquered the auto-shoot function on my digital camera and solved the issue of how to take the picture. The question of what to wear was slightly more difficult. Would the winning buyer expect to obtain me in the clothes in which I was pictured? Would my clothes suggest something about my quality as a purchase, thus affecting the bids? I became convinced that the best thing to do would be to pose nude, like a statue, a piece of art, what you see is what you get, no hidden deficiencies, no strings, no laser-induced acrylic markings. To sell a gun one takes it out of its holster; to display a ring one magnifies each brilliant shining edge. This is merely all I did.

 

For the title, which could only be eight words or else, I followed the example of what I saw and typed LIVE MALE BODY GOOD HEALTH NO PREFERENCE.

 

The next step was the description. In reviewing various buyers and sellers I quickly noticed that there was a pressing need to understand why the person was being sold. There had to be a reason. The sellers spoke of loneliness and longing. How they wanted to be possessed and owned and humbled before an owner. The ones selling somebody else spoke of poverty and hunger and how they were selling their children because they were starving and behind with their dealers. They described their own strengths and healthy nature, their intelligence and personality. The persons pitched themselves like a car ad with no extra feature or accessory left out. But they did not mention desperation. They did not point out their failures and faults, or how they had been dumped, turned down, sold and returned before. They did not speak of the past, which was full of lovers and liars who knew them as the pathetic undesirable bodies that they were. Because no one wants that which is unwanted.

 

I did not give a reason. I did not feel compelled to write in sixty words or less how valuable I was, how fine-tuned was my form, how well-oiled were my gears, how my innards ticked liked clockwork and my canvas was braised with brushstrokes. It was unnecessary to mention that my skin was beautiful and complex and wrinkled like that of an Indian elephant deity or the cracks of an ancient mosaic—with every polished pebble put in place. No argument was necessary to debate the price of a human body; the value or worth, the profit margin or net gain involved—not when the prize goes to the highest bidder. My picture spoke for itself. I spoke for myself.

 

When the SUBMIT button came, that strange, suggestive SUBMIT button, I did not need to justify the rationality of selling one’s self, because we are all selling ourselves. I didn’t feel the need to build a defense in my mind for the victimization of others. To mention prostitutes, mail-order brides, or slaves and the offenses incurred upon them; because every desperate, eager night owl is a whore, every diamond thirsty girlfriend is paid for, and we are all, at our own expense, slaves to something.

 

People have been selling themselves long before they were selling each other. And the first time we did try to sell each other, the first time a father held his child up by the skin of its neck and placed it on the auction block, was for far less ignoble purposes than cocaine. Drug dealers didn’t start the child selling industry; they only recognized its advantages.

 

When I finally clicked on that button I was well aware of the infinite number of potential fates awaiting me.

I wasn’t scared. The mystery of it all allowed for enough curiosity to be somewhat anxious of the possibilities. I thought of perverts and freaks. Fetishes and sex machines I had never before imagined. That I would be a permanent sperm donor, sex slave, porn star. I thought of Nazi torture method experimentation. That I could be a guinea pig for new execution devices, psychological weapons of hypnotic procedures. I hoped I would be dinner for the prized man-eating monkeys of a rich Indian landowner, who only wanted the best for his babies. I thought of cannibalism and being squared off and shoved into a freezer, nicely shrink-wrapped and dated.

 

Or, perhaps, it would be so much simpler than all of that. Maybe I would be the purchase of an obscenely wealthy couple with petty yet particular needs to be fulfilled. Maybe I would be immediately released in the backyard, hunted, shot, and mounted on the wall between a tiger and a lonely bisexual from Seattle. Maybe, as quaint as it may sound, I would be given a roughly stitched collar to be tightly strapped around my neck. I would be a pet. I would be fed under the table, spanked regularly, crossbred with curious results, taught to do all the tricks my master wanted, with an increasing sense of animalistic apathy and carelessness. But domestication involves more than a leash and a tail between the legs. For what dog ever wandered to the pound by itself? What lion shrugged off its crown and locked the key to its cage? We may all be exhibits in a zoo or an ant colony, with the glass wiped clean, but we are also the zookeepers, the observers, and the tax-payers.

 

Rather a zoo than a museum, to suffer under the eternal hands of taxidermists.

 

The difference is in the decision; the SUBMIT button.

 

As for my bidders, when I made that final decision, I wanted them to know my sincerity; that I would be judged for what I was . . . . aged like wine, hardened like clay, ripe for the picking; unready for recall, retirement, replacement, Florida. Unready to shut down and be recycled for parts, to be taken out with the trash, to fertilize their gardens and plug up their medical plans and social security systems like an over-flown toilet. Unready to succumb.

 

Because no one wants that which is unwanted.

 

Beyond the possibilities, I also dreamed of the competition. I wondered how many would fight over me, outbidding each other with absurd results. I checked back regularly, looking for any updates at all.

 

After one day there was nothing.

 

After two days there was a question posted— WHAT YOUR BLOODTYPE?

 

Three days,

four days.

five.

6.

 

On the seventh day there was only Vixen77. He posted a comment— HOPE YOU LIKE FRANK

That was it. He made his bid, he won, and I was e-mailed the contract which I had previously agreed to print, sign, and mail. I signed, and in doing so recognized the complex comedy of such an act. The letters of my name became a jumble of nothingness. What is cursive but an obviously desperate attempt to keep things together? But these things don’t stay together. These things fall apart. They were only letters. I had no name. I became I.T. The letter I became the letter IT. I became IT. IT was I. There was no I. There was no i. i was IT, or maybe it.

 

Or maybe less. Maybe nothing.

 

it was less than it. it was less than it. i (now it) was not even the. it was not even a or an. a, an, the, were things. some things. things of some. things of someness. somethingness. i (now it) was nothingness. No—I which was i which was not the or a or an, but was IT, now it, was even less than that. I was

 

Vixen77’s. I was ‘s.

 

‘s was my notname.

 

i ( now ‘s) was possession. Possessed. Belonging. Po zest. Be long. Be longed. Goodbye mine, goodbye me, so long i.

Euphemism Campus Box 5555 Illinois State University Normal, IL 61790